TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Board of Directors of Great State 2019, Inc. announced its non-profit status and the work being undertaken as Great State Alabama.
Great State Alabama (GSA) was founded in part by Dr. Robert Bentley, a Board Certified Dermatologist and former governor of Alabama. The purpose of the organization is to support, advocate and drive improvement in the lives of the most vulnerable and marginalized men, women and children in our state. GSA is supporting its mission through four key program areas: Rural Healthcare, Foster Child Scholarships, Criminal Justice Reform, and Pre-K Support.
“I have always had a heart to serve the people of Alabama. Through this nonprofit organization, I can continue my service in new ways by reaching out to the individuals who need it most,” Dr. Bentley said. “With this organization, we are laying a foundation which will allow us to serve thousands of Alabamians each year, continue to grow and increase our capacity for years to come.”
The organization is led by Executive Director Daniel Sparkman, a communications and public administration professional who served as press secretary to two Alabama governors. He has more than 17 years of professional experience in journalism, communications, public administration and association management. The board is composed of an additional seven individuals from a variety of professional fields.
“It’s an honor to be able to serve the people of Alabama in this new way. All of us involved are excited about the work we have done so far, as well as the road ahead and what it will mean to so many people in our state,” Sparkman said. “We have hit the ground running and look forward to expanding our capacity in the months to come. It’s clear that when we all put our minds together for good, the possibilities are endless.”
The first area of focus is to bring health care to those who have limited access to it, especially those in rural Alabama. Access to healthcare in rural Alabama is a recognized issue in our state. In 65 of Alabama’s 67 counties, there is a shortage of doctors. In fact, Alabama ranks 40th in the country in the number of physicians per capita. It is no wonder then that we see rising rates of preventable and manageable disease, especially among rural, low-income counties. The majority of Alabama is rural, yet rural physicians make up less than 10-percent of the physician workforce.
Great State Alabama recognizes this disparity among regions of the state as it relates to access to specialized medicine. Where some rural and underserved regions may have at least limited access to family medicine, specialists serving these regions are rare. This results in patients ignoring pressing medical issues such as advancing skin cancers and systemic signs of skin disease.
To assist in alleviating this disparity, GSA is holding a series of Great State Rural Clinics, providing a range of completely free examinations, diagnoses and treatments. The first series of clinical offerings is skin cancer screenings, with plans to hold dermatology clinics and family medical clinics in the future. These clinics are held twice a month in rural communities across our state. The current fundraising priority is to acquire a standalone mobile unit so that clinics can be held in more rural areas.
The next planned clinic is a skin cancer screening to be held on Saturday, April 10th at Carrollton Baptist Church in Carrollton, located in Pickens County. To find out more information about Great State Alabama and how you can support their efforts visit: http://greatstatealabama.org.